Integrating Halloween middle and high school language arts activities into your classes.
I know that not every teacher uses Halloween as an opportunity for themed-lessons—for a variety of reasons.
However, if you do integrate Halloween into the classroom, I have ideas for you. And? I honestly did not put Halloween into my classroom early in my career. My belief was that I needed to focus on content, to keep students grounded.
However, as years went on, I realized that my classroom management and relationships with students improved when I acknowledged my students’ excitement from outside sources. My students—teenagers—enjoy spooky language arts lessons.
So, we write about fall, we color pumpkins while studying grammar, and we read mysterious literature. Here are five Halloween activities for secondary ELA.
A brief review of the parts of speech helps overall lessons in several ways:
- With vocabulary. Standards ask students to manipulate words, to use words in a variety of ways. Before students can change “manipulate” to the noun form, you might need to review parts of speech.
- With clauses. I review parts of speech before teaching noun, adjective, and adverb clauses. Students feel empowered, and I can bridge off prior knowledge.
- With advanced writing. As students advance in their writing, they construct longer and denser sentences. Unfortunately, lacking a strong understanding of the parts of speech can hinder students in their proofreading efforts. I see this struggle primarily with conjunction use and misplaced and dangling modifiers.
Plus, this cute pumpkin coloring sheet makes for perfect Halloween decor in your language arts classroom.
When I taught middle school, I spread out the narrative standards over the entire school year. To organize the narrative writings, students wrote about the season with the structure based on their five senses.
This organizational structure helped in several ways. One, students could personalize the senses in a way that made them comfortable. The season holds different meanings to every student, and this freedom allowed students to be comfortable in what they shared. Two, students had a starting point for organizing their paragraphs.
Halloween middle and high school language arts activities do overlap, but typically, I have found themed-narratives such as this fall writing one to lean more toward middle school.
Most students are already familiar with Shirley Jackson because they have read “The Lottery.” Since students enjoy her writing style, introduce The Haunting of Hill House for First Chapter Friday, independent-choice reading, or book clubs.
Personally, I think The Haunting of Hill House is an underrated story. The novel ends ominously, and Jackson was ahead of her time regarding her portrayal of psychological anguish in literature.
Students may be familiar with the show by the same name which always increases interest in a book choice.
When I taught middle school, I differentiated grammar lessons a handful of ways. Task cards and station work became my best friends because I could rotate students where they needed practice. Plus, when students spread out, I could direct students to practice in multiple ways in confidence—kids were on the other side of the room and didn’t hear their peers’ assignments.
One differentiation method involved interactive notebooks. My prepositional pieces allowed for students to place prepositions (printed on leaves) around a tree. Students practiced location pieces (prepositions!) with a fall-themed activity.
When I discontinued using interactive notebooks, I gave students paper with a tree for them to add their leaves. I actually liked this way better because the finished products decorated my room in time for parent-teacher conferences.
Students find Poe interesting, and even though his stories are complex, students enjoy them as well. I think part of the interest exists because so much about his life remains unknown, a bit mysterious, and so teachers typically cover him around Halloween.
Since Poe has a variety of texts from “The Raven” to “The Masque of the Red Death,” his stories fit into Halloween middle and high school language arts activities. Plus, his language and literature lends itself to a variety of standards.
These five ideas for Halloween in the language arts classroom are teacher-tested. But, are you looking for basic, less spooky October language arts lessons? I share mine so that you can see my lesson plans during the fall months. Check out that list to see an overview of plans for my classroom as I start the second quarter of the school year.
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